Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Limpid Blue, or Evanescent Green

The Sea in Calm
by George Crabbe


Various and vast, sublime in all its forms,
When lulled by zephyrs, or when roused by storms,
Its colours changing, when from clouds and sun,
Shades after shades upon the surface run;
Embrowned and horrid now, and now serene,
In limpid blue, or evanescent green;
And oft the foggy banks in ocean lie,
Lift the fair sail, and cheat th' experienced eye.

Be it the summer noon: a sandy space
The ebbing tide has left upon its place;
Then just the hot and stony beach above,
Light-twinkling streams in bright confusion move;
Then the broad bosom of the ocean keeps
An equal motion, swelling as it sleeps,
Then slowly sinking; curling to the strand,
Faint, lazy waves o'ercreep the ridgy sand,
Or tap the tarry boat with gentle blow,
And back return in silence, smooth and slow.
Ships in the calm seem anchored; for they glide
On the still sea, urged solely by the tide.

Crabbe is one of those poets whose lack of renown is somewhat surprising. He was very highly respected as a poet in his day, by many of the best writers of the time (Sir Walter Scott, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, and Jane Austen were all fans, just to name a few). His poetry is clear, clean, and vivid (his work from the very beginning has often been compared to painting), devoid of any pompousness: Crabbe comes at least very near to writing the highest quality realistic descriptive and narrative poetry in English.

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